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A federal judge has granted a motion to stay a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s electronic record-keeping rule as the agency decides whether to reconsider, revise or remove parts of the rule.
The National Association of Home Builders of the United States and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among other organizations, in January filed a lawsuit challenging the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses, also known as the electronic record-keeping, regulation in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City. The Trump administration on Monday filed an unopposed motion asking David Russell, the U.S. district judge overseeing the litigation, to stay the proceedings, which he granted on Tuesday. The motion was filed after the Trump administration proposed delaying the compliance date for employers to electronically report injuries and illnesses to Dec. 1 and stated it would issue a separate proposal to reconsider, revise or remove other provisions of the rule. This has raised questions about whether the rule’s public reporting or anti-retaliation provisions that employers have vociferously objected to will ever be enforced or if the agency will launch a rule-making process to reverse those provisions.
“Staying this litigation would conserve judicial resources because additional rulemaking could eliminate or simplify some of the issues in dispute,” the Trump administration said in its stay request.
The administration must submit a status report on the progress of its proposed rule-making to the court every 90 days, per the judge’s order.
The possibility that the Trump administration will stop defending the lawsuit altogether was a key reason the AFL-CIO and the United Steelworkers filed a motion in March to intervene. On June 26, the judge denied intervention motions by the unions and public health advocates because the groups failed to show that the Trump administration will not adequately represent their interests, but left open the possibility the groups can renew their motions if the government’s position changes.
The National Association of Manufacturers and Great American Insurance Co. filed a separate lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Dallas against the rule in July 2016. On June 30, Sam Lindsay, the U.S. district judge overseeing that litigation, responded to the Trump administration’s motion to stay those proceedings by administratively closing the case. The action does not constitute a dismissal or disposition of the case and any party may file a motion to reopen the case to initiate further proceedings if necessary or desirable, according to the order.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration will delay the July 1 compliance date for the electronic submission of the 2016 Form 300A, the agency said Wednesday.